In this article, we describe a deployed educational technology application: the Criterion Online Essay Evaluation Service, a web-based system that provides automated scoring and evaluation of student essays. Criterion has two complementary applications: (1) CritiqueWriting Analysis Tools, a suite of programs that detect errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, that identify discourse elements in the essay, and that recognize potentially undesirable elements of style, and (2) e-rater version 2.0, an automated essay scoring system. Critique and e-rater provide students with feedback that is specific to their writing in order to help them improve their writing skills and is intended to be used under the instruction of a classroom teacher. All of these capabilities outperform baseline algorithms, and some of the tools agree with human judges in their evaluations as often as two judges agree with each other.
The edtech trend on the tip of everyone's tongue at this year's EdtechXEurope event is artificial intelligence. By harnessing the power of AI and deep learning, educators can glean insights from the vast quantities of data hoovered up from their students. AI could also help lecturers make better decisions and could improve student retention rates, according to experts. "AI is a tool to make better sense of data," says Satya Nitta, director of education and cognitive sciences at IBM. Julia Stiglitz, director of business development at Coursera, says: "Data is an amazing resource for teachers, who glean detailed feedback on how learners are processing information."
As a result, Arcas and his team are now able to teach these machines how to express their perceptions in ways of which we would've never thought possible. Many today might even deny that computers are able to be creative, claiming that only humans are uniquely capable of such. Though, as Arcas noted in his talk, "perception and creativity are by no means uniquely human. We start to have computer models that can do exactly these sorts of things. And that ought to be unsurprising; the brain is computational."
According to the Financial Times, Pablo Picasso once said, "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." Unfortunately for us, computers may now be asking more questions than they answer. As a result, the possibilities are rather overwhelming, with answers more ambiguous and uncertain than straightforward. Similarly, we might ask ourselves where we draw the line when it comes to what we find ethically acceptable in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) as it relates to composition/creation in the worlds of art, writing, performing arts and music--as well as liberal arts education.
A former science teacher who believed in the power and possibility of online learning over two decades ago, he taught himself how to build courses in HTML on class intranets. Kevin taught one of the first hybrid, educational technology courses for teachers, for the University of Washington. And, after building countless web pages and classes on the early world wide web, he now helps develop e-learning programs, consults on virtual training'best practices' and has many interests in other internet and educational technology-related areas. Kevin finds he's now enjoying learning more from his children who are all deep into their own technology-related careers and entrepreneurial endeavors. With two new grandchildren, he's investigating more seriously the advancing new technologies in an effort to understand the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve happiness and success in a technological future.